Friday, February 03, 2017

Coetzee ahead in Dubai before gales halt
play: Tiger unfit for Day 2, withdraws
South African George Coetzee edged ahead of round one leader Sergio Garcia at the top of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard before play was suspended due to high winds and the resultant safety concerns from gusts of over 35 miles per hour. 
Those gusts caused balls to move on greens and upended five trees on the Majilis Course at the Emirates Golf Club, leaving tournament officials no choice but to suspend play for the day. 
Coetzee started the day one shot behind 11-time European Tour winner Garcia, and he got off to a blistering start with three birdies in his first four holes. One bogey and a further birdie saw him leave the course at nine under par having played eight holes of his second round.
Garcia managed to play five holes before play was suspended, and he kept Coetzee in his sights, recording two birdies and a bogey to get to one under par for the day and eight under overall.
Fellow Spaniard Nacho Elvira is currently one shot further back at six under par, with American David Lipsky at five under. Both will be amongst 21 groups of players who will return to the course at 7.30 am  (local time) on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds.
Rafa Cabrera Bello and Martin Kaymer both signed for three under par rounds of 69 earlier in the day, and are amongst a group of eight players on four under.
There was disappointment for Tiger Woods, meanwhile, after the 14-time Major champion was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to back spasms before round two got under way.
Woods, who was grouped with defending champion Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick, carded a five over par 77 on day one but was unfit to hit a single shot today.
Mike Stewart (European Tour Tournament Director): “We've had a fairly challenging day today with the wind. We had very strong winds this morning which were gusting up to about 27 miles per hour. Those winds increased during the course of lunch time and into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts of 36mph and beyond.
“The result was that during the last hour or so of play, before we suspended at 2.26pm, we had a lot of things going on out on the golf course. We had TV towers that had their roofs blown off. We had balls moving on the greens – one ball blew into a bunker at one stage – and five trees came down. It became very unsafe on the golf course and it was therefore unplayable. So we brought the players off the golf course, in the interests of play and safety for the spectators, as well.
“The forecast for the last couple of days is pretty good. We don't have any major issues I think. We'll have some gusting winds on the weekend but nothing like days one and two. Hopefully we can most of the third round completed tomorrow (Saturday). We'll still have a bit of round three to conclude on Sunday, but all being well we still have a good chance of finishing on time on Sunday afternoon.”
George Coetzee: “Obviously I am quite happy to have taken advantage of it being on the side of the draw I am. It was a question of being patient. I think it was the right decision - we saw this one tree go down. You get a warning from the tree when it's about to collapse – it starts squeaking. I was walking under the trees hearing the squeaking and thinking, this could hit me. It's a little bit dangerous out there with the trees collapsing but hopefully tomorrow will be better.”
Sergio Garcia: “It was a little bit of a lottery. The wind was all over the place and it was blowing really, really hard and very gusty. Obviously with trees coming down and things like that, we managed to hold on well for those first five holes, which wasn't easy. I think tomorrow will be a little bit calmer and we can get out there and try and get back on track.”
Martin Kaymer: “I’m very pleased, because I was hitting a lot of good golf shots. Putting was very hard. Sometimes you hit before the gust and sometimes the gust comes without being able to predict, so it was very hard to make putts to get the ball close. But as long as you hit the fairways and greens; that was the main goal the last couple days. Not trying to make any silly mistakes, and I did that very well.
“I think if I continue my long game the way I played yesterday and today, I think I might have a good chance on Sunday. But I need to make more out of my chances around the greens. Especially yesterday, I had five pretty straightforward up-and-downs and I didn't make a birdie off them. So it could have been a very low round yesterday, and also today. So if I continue this and maybe pick up a couple here and there, I might have a chance.”
Danny Willett: “It was sad news that Tiger couldn’t join us today. Obviously I have a lot of sympathy for his situation because I have had a lot of problems with my back and I know how difficult it can be to manage. You just never know sometimes when you have back problems: it can be any little thing like sleeping in the wrong position; a different pillow or something as innocuous as that and you wake up and all of a sudden you have a problem. But hopefully it’s a minor issue and he can get back playing as soon as possible.”   
Par 144 (2x72) Yardage 7,328
140 M Kaymer (Ger) 71 69, R Cabrera Bello (Spn) 71 69
141 R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 71, J Morrison (Eng) 71 70, A Levy (Fra) 71 70
142 S Jamieson (Sco) 69 73, J Smith (Eng) 69 73, M Ilonen (Fin) 69 72, N Holman (Aus) 71  71, C Wood (Eng) 70 72, G Storm (Eng) 74 68, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 70.
143 S Gallacher (Sco) 72 71, P Lawrie (Sco) 70 73.





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